A Massachusetts man was casting live menhaden off the coast of North Carolina on November 8 when he hooked into a fish so rare that state wildlife officials had to create a new record category for his catch. Matt Frattasio caught the 26-pound, 15.6-ounce Almaco jack while fishing in 80-feet of water near Morehead City.
According to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), Frattasio’s fish was weighed and identified by fisheries staff at the Morehead City office of the Division of Marine Fisheries Headquarters later that day. It measured 36.4 inches from the tip of the nose to the fork in the tail and had a 26-inch girth.
Frattasio told Fox News Digital that he’d been catching albacore all morning while fishing inshore with Captain Terry Nugent of Riptide Charters. But when Nugent motored out to deeper waters—a spot known locally as the “D wreck”—Frattasio and the rest of the crew started hooking fish like crazy.
Frattasio called it the best day of fishing he’s ever experience in his 40-plus year angling career. The action was so fierce, the angler told Fox News, that he might have released the big Alamaco without ever knowing it was a state record. Luckily, Captain Nugent advised him otherwise.
While the NCDEQ has never logged a benchmark for the rarely-caught species, until now, a few neighboring states had standing records at the time of Frattasio’s catch. Georgia’s state record Almaco is just 7 pounds, 7 ounces, the NCDEQ said in a recent press release, and Florida’s largest Almaco jack weighed in at 35 pounds, 9 ounces. The International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record was caught in Japan in 2020. It weighed 136 pounds.
A tropical species that wanders into more temperate waters from time to time, the Almaco jack is a type of amberjack. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the fish is wide-ranging in off-shore waters, but the adults tend to congregate on the ocean floor where they aren’t commonly caught. Their bodies are more compressed than banded rudderfish or greater amberjacks (two other amberjacks species), and they can be dark in color. On average, Almacos weigh about 10 pounds and tape out at roughly 35 inches.